CINCINNATI -- As the days feel like weeks and weeks feel like months without baseball for players and fans, Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart has mostly remained at home near Indianapolis.
“I’m negotiating the tile and carpet in my basement while I’m chipping golf balls,” Barnhart said on Monday. “I texted a couple of guys on Opening Day. I was legitimately sad. It hurt me to not be able to be playing, it was weird. Obviously, it seems kind of crappy to talk about baseball at a time like that, but I also think it brings people some normalcy -- myself included.”
Not all of Barnhart’s idle time has comprised of trivial activity. He and his wife, Sierra, are expecting their second baby near the end of July and the couple has also tried helping local restaurants with “Takeout Thursdays” that buys dinners for customers.
A challenging issue for Barnhart, personally, is how to prepare for a season. Having started his 2020 prep in November, he’s worried about the toll of playing baseball in some form for a whole year assuming the season is extended into this November.
“Without knowing a firm start date or having really any idea of when we are going to start Spring Training 2.0, I think it’s tough to kind of figure out what you should be doing at this current moment,” he said. “Should I be taking it like I’m in the middle of a season and do something baseball every single day or should I take a little time off and maybe prepare myself for a longer season than normal?”
At home, Barnhart and Sierra are preparing for their baby’s arrival while also taking every necessary precaution. They’re hopeful that he could still be in the delivery room when the time comes, which some states have prohibited during the pandemic.
“If we get to a point at the end of July and we’re still dealing with what we’re dealing with, as it stands now, I will able to be in the delivery room which is a major plus for me and the stress and anxiety level of my wife,” Barnhart said. “It’s definitely helped us a lot.”
Barnhart has been able to lean into his other life’s passion -- cooking. The fan of fine dining occasionally posts his dishes on Instagram.
“Food is my getaway. Whenever I’m stressed or whenever I’m just trying to kill some time, I am likely in the kitchen trying to do something,” Barnhart said. “A lot of times, I’ll find a recipe maybe on the Food Network In the Kitchen app, or in a cook book. Then I’ll omit something or add something that maybe I like or maybe I think could do the recipe good. I made a red wine reduction last night that was absolutely awful, so I won’t be doing that again.”
Barnhart also wants to continue “Takeout Thursdays,” which he’s done for the past couple of weeks. The Frisch’s Big Boy chain partnered with him last week, but he’s also bought $500 gift cards from local places in Cincinnati and Indianapolis so people who come into a certain place that day have a meal paid for by the Barnharts.
“It's something that's been pretty cool to be a part of and feed people,” Barnhart said. “And just kind of maybe take some stress off some people just for one night during a very, very stressful time.”